May 24, 2022

Buffs rolling into playoff opener

Radio Coverage: Garden City (6-3) at Wichita Northwest (5-4)-6A playoffs 1st Round-6:30 pm pregame; 7 pm kickoff-99.9 FM (Mike Pilosof and Ross Miller) and online at: https://www.westernkansasnews.com/kwkr/   |Available on Tuneinradio: type keyword KWKR and kwkrmobile.com

Wichita, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-The fourth down stop that saved the Garden City season. It came with under seven minutes to play in a game that was well out of hand.

Down 21 points and facing a fourth-and-10 from the Garden City 40, Dodge City quarterback Kelan Newton fired an incomplete pass to Jace Larson. The errant throw secured a playoff spot for Brian Hill’s bunch; nearly a district title. All because Isaac Newton figured physics and mathematics should determine state champions in the sunflower state. Okay, maybe not Newton, but the Kansas High School Activities Association certainly makes things interesting. 

“I was just as confused as anyone else,” Hill said after his team’s triumph in the 76th Hatchet game. “Adding, subtracting; all i know is we’re in, and that’s all that counts.” 

The Buffs are in, and they begin their quest for the school’s second state title Friday night in Wichita against District 7 champ Northwest. 

It’s a team that Garden City is very familiar with but has struggled against in recent years. In fact, the Grizzlies have won each of the past four meetings. Mike Smith’s teams beat them only once. Does Hill have the answer?

“You can tell from week one to week nine, they’ve gotten a whole lot better,” Hill said. “They can flat out run the football.”

Yes they can. Senior Derron, Thompson, who’s weighing six Division-I offers, is closing in on 3,500 career-rushing yards. 

“The one thing that separates him from anyone else is his speed,” Northwest Coach Steve Martin said. “Once he gets in the open field, forget about it; he’s gone.”

Thompson is coming off a 13 carry, 186 yard, five touchdown performance against Wichita South last week. The Buffs hope there is no repeat performance of that. 

“He’s probably the biggest back we’ll see all year,” Hill said. “He’s fast and can make guys miss.”

Garden City has their own wicked ground attack. Senior quarterback Greyson Tempel is among the state’s leading rushers-carrying it 152 times for 1,179 yards. 

Sophomore Jared Koster has pitched in 517 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Between the two of them, they’re a pretty dynamic duo. 

“Tempel is one of the best quarterbacks we’ll see,” Martin said. “He’s unbelievable with what he does with his feet and his arm.”

Tempel’s arm has been responsible for 19 touchdown passes compared to only seven interceptions. He’s now thrown for a score in eight straight games. 

The winner of Friday night’s match-up plays either Topeka or Wichita Heights. If Garden City pulls it out, they will be playing one more home game in 2013. The same stadium that saw them put forth the biggest fourth-down stop in school history; one that saved their season-all because of simple math; thanks Mr. Newton and KSHSAA. 

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